Today’s internet trend is to create dynamic websites that update their content quite often instead of creating static website where the content is created once and not being updated later. Evidence for that is the fact that Google search engine increases dynamic website location in its search results.
Therefore, if you’re building a website, there are numerous options available to you that may influence if your site will be static or dynamic. Here is a simple comparison of the most common ones:
HTML/CSS vs. Flash
An HTML/CSS site is perfect for small business sites that aren’t updated often. HTML is relatively easy to learn, making building and updating your website easier. It can also be displayed on nearly any Internet-enabled device, like a smartphone, tablet or regular PC. On the other hand, Flash gives you the ability to add more multimedia content, like video, animations and music to your site. While it is possible to build an entire site based on Flash, it is very difficult to do so for a novice without coding experience. Furthermore, many mobile devices don’t support Flash at all, which means that users won’t be able to see your website on such a device. Moreover, Flash is the worst choice for SEO. Web crawlers cannot read Flash, so even if you put keyword-optimized content on a Flash page, it will bring you no SEO benefits. Furthermore, Flash-based websites do not have unique URLs for each page, which further complicates SEO.
CMS vs. HTML/CSS
A Content Management System, like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal provides an “engine” that runs your website. You can choose from several thousands of free or commercial themes, plus you can add plugins that give your site additional functionality, like e-commerce features or a comments section. Using a CMS is practically a must if you have a site that is updated or changed often, like a blog or news site. However, a CMS based site will use more server resources than a static HTML/CSS site. This might be a problem if you have several sites on a shared hosting account, but can easily be remedied by upgrading to a more powerful hosting solution, like a VPS. Using a CMS is a bit better for SEO, as updating your pages and adding fresh content is a lot easier. CMS platforms like WordPress also have SEO plugins that make evaluating the SEO-worthiness of each page simpler. You should also know that the majority of CMS platforms render pages using CMS and HTML, so you will get no real SEO advantage by just using a static HTML site.
Online Services (such as Wix) vs. CMS
There are a few online services which give you a web-based interface that allows you to build, update and maintain your site. They give you similar functionality to CMS, while being a lot easier to use. However, one major drawback of services like Wix is that they require you to use their own hosting service and pay higher monthly fee compared to regular hosting. You cannot run the site on your own server or shared hosting account. If you ever wish to migrate your site to another platform, exporting the data can be quite tricky. Because Wix is currently based on flash technology, therefore all SEO impacts that were mentioned in the above paragraphs are relevant here as well; Namely Wix is not the best solution for SEO.
The option you choose will largely depend on the type of website you are building, as some options are more suitable for specific types of websites. Here is an overview:
A blog will need a CMS, as it is updated often and allows user interaction in the form of comments.
Basic small business site
You can use HTML/CSS if your small business site is very basic and only consists of a few pages that aren’t updated too frequently.
If you’re building an informative site, you will probably end up with dozens or even hundreds of pages that are interconnected together. A CMS would be the best option to manage all of this content.
If you build a review site, a CMS is a must, as user reviews will need to be added live to your pages. All CMS platforms have themes and plugins that can power a review site.
When it comes to the three main content management systems available today, there are some pros and cons for each of them:
Pros: Very easy to use, even for beginners. Lots of tutorials and how-to information available online for free. Updating your content becomes very easy to do.
Cons: Doesn’t offer the needed versatility for complex or large sites, such as news websites or e-commerce sites. WordPress will also require relatively frequent updates to keep it safe from vulnerabilities and hacking attacks.
Pros: Still easy to use, while allowing more complex sites. Supports e-commerce functions and is actively supported by a community of developers.
Cons: While numerous modules are available that can make your site more functional, they can be a bit difficult to install and maintain if you are a beginner. Support for many of these modules is limited to online discussion forums.
Pros: The most powerful CMS, suitable for very complex sites run by professional development teams. Has fewer security issues and possible exploits when compared to WordPress and Joomla. Highly customizable, can be used to run virtually any type of website you could dream of.
Cons: Quite difficult to install and set up a website. Requires some technical expertise which will take some time to acquire for beginners. Most people who run sites based on the Drupal platform hire a professional developer to set up and help maintain the site for this reason.
One great advantage of all three main CMS platforms is that they will work on both Linux and Windows based servers. Even though most people who use a CMS run a Linux-based server, Windows Server and IIS now support all three of these platforms.